Since I retired, I have been writing articles about the legal profession “from the safety of retirement”. It occurred to me recently that many of them may have been a bit negative in tone. Someone carefully studying my growing body of work (and I do realize that absolutely nobody is doing that) might conclude that I have a negative view of the profession in which I worked for 40 years.
And so, I got to thinking, I should balance that by writing about what I actually liked about being a lawyer, and by doing so offer some hope to the young people entering the profession. Here is me being positive for a change:
- I liked solving puzzles. I enjoyed looking at a problem and drawing upon my knowledge of the law and years of experience to find a solution, especially when the solution was not obvious. That was fun. Similarly, I liked delving into all sorts of facts to fully understand a situation, organizing them, and then applying the law to develop a strategy to take the client where they wanted to go. That was also fun. I especially enjoyed being able to use common sense, evaluate risk and recommend a path forward for a client which a less experienced, less practical, or more “by the book” lawyer would not have found.
- I liked winning.
- I found it satisfying to start with a blank piece of paper and create a unique document for an unusual situation (not to be confused with the somewhat pedestrian task of revising a precedent).
- I enjoyed meeting people who were facing a business crisis that arose from difficult personal relationships and reassuring them that there was a way out and that they could count on me to lead them there. One time, I worked for months with a client who was struggling with a family business conflict. After the matter was resolved, I met his wife at a social event and she said to me: “Murray, I am very happy to finally meet you. Thank you so much for what you did for our family. My husband was coming home stressed every evening until you got involved. Once he started working with you, he would come home and tell me that things were going to work out because you were taking care of us.”
- I loved mentoring younger lawyers and law clerks and after a while being able to stand back and enjoy seeing them soar on their own.
- I hated public speaking in my early years. But, after I learned how to speak without boring the audience, it was fun to know that I could stand up and entertain a crowd while teaching them a few things in the process.
- I liked the process of promoting business by going to events and “doing lunch”. It was enjoyable to socialize with interesting people, and to take a genuine interest in what they were doing.
- I liked the money.
- I loved the feeling that I got when a partners meeting was over, and I knew that I did not have to go to another one for another month. The only better feeling was the pure joy that I experienced when a partners meeting was cancelled.
- And finally, I very much enjoyed retiring. Getting out. Being done with it.
And so, never let it be said again that I only write negatively about the legal profession.